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Lansing Passes 2018 Budget

The Lansing Town Board passed a $4,916,788 2018 budget Wednesday, plus another $1,427,065.28 budget for special districts for a total of $6,343,853.28 in appropriations.  Despite decreased assessments, the good news for property taxpayers is that the Town tax rate is expected to decrease by .03%, to $1.4910 per thousand dollars of assessed value.

"From our preliminary indications we look healthy," said Lansing Supervisor Ed LaVigne.  "It's a good budget.  My goal is to get this eventually to a zero based budget, which means 'This is the pot of money we have coming in -- this is the pot of money that we're going to use, only'.  We're slowly working our way down from using our fund balance, as it keeps decreasing every year.  We gently do that so the taxpayers won't be vulnerable.  Because, to us an OMG is a WT-you-know-what to them.  You don't want shocks."

The Board also repealed a law passed earlier this year that allowed the Town to exceed the state-imposed tax cap.  Many municipalities pass such a law early in the budget year to insure they can raise sufficient funds for the next year's budget.  But when it becomes apparent the municipality will be able to keep its levy below the cap they repeal it.  Lansing officials say the Town will be under the tax cap by $74,585.  The levy (amount to be raised by taxes) will be $1,960,676.78 for the town budget, and $542,799.03 that is paid only by residents inside the special -- lighting, sewer, and water -- districts.

The tax rate would have been slightly lower, but the total town assessment decreased from $840,099,427 to $839,894,427.  That $205,000 decrease increased the tax rate by .02%.  But because the tax rate would have been .05% lower than in 2017, it will still be .03% lower than last year.

11th hour changes to the previously published preliminary budget also included $5,000 for Tompkins County Emergency Preparedness in the town-wide general fund.  In special districts changes to the way water is billed and changes to sewer units slightly changed those budgets.

"So far our sales tax looks like it will be better than last year," LaVigne said.  "But we always try to be very conservative with our revenue stream, because if we overestimate the taxpayers have to pay for it in the next year.  We try to estimate something that is reasonable, but also steady.  Usually around 89% of sales tax goes to the DB (highway fund outside the Village) and 11% goes to the B (general fund outside the Village)."

LaVigne had praise for all four board members.

"Robert (Cree) insisted on a six months amount for our fund balance policy.  Katrina (Binkewicz) also made a great contribution with the reserve policy and also with the pathways and trails.  So we are in a good position to try to give everybody what they want.  I don't know if we can, but we're certainly going to try.  Thanks to Doug (Dake) for his assistance on the roof so (Parks and Recreation Director) Mr. Colt doesn't have an unintended skylight in his ceiling, and thanks to Andra (Benson) for helping us with the Drop-in Center.  If I had to pick one accomplishment in my short tenure here, that would be that we addressed that concern and no kid gets turned away from Drop-in.  If we need to offer different programs in the future to take care of our kids, we will."

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